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Opposition to 20mph zones is based on "misinformed rubbish" say campaigners...

Bristol Cycling Campaign has backed a petition urging the city council to keep a 20mph speed limit in residential areas amid calls for it to be scrapped, saying that opposition to the speed limit is based on "misinformed rubbish."

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition launched in March this year calling for the limit, introduced by Mayor George Ferguson, to be scrapped.

The petition claims that the extending such a limit across the city is “completely ludicrous,” saying that while “no driver objects to a 20mph limit near a school for example but a blanket roll out is totally absurd.”

It adds that “roads will only be made more dangerous with frustrated drivers and people watching the speedo rather than where they're going.”

A rival petition, now backed by Bristol Cycling Campaign, was launched in June and has more than 1,000 supporters to date.

That petition says: “We are convinced that Bristol's narrow streets and roads in densely populated neighbourhoods or around parks are not suitable for 30mph traffic.

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“Reducing the maximum speed makes a much more liveable city with pleasant streets, significantly improves safety of all road and pavement users, especially of children.

“It also has a huge positive impact on cycling by allowing cyclists to keep up with the main flow of traffic or, when this is not possible, making cars pass much more safely.

“It even helps businesses by making streets more friendly and stopping easier for cars.

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In a blog post published yesterday, Bristol Cycling Campaign described the assertion that 20mph zones are “ridiculous” and “ludicrous” as “misinformed rubbish” and urged supporters to sign the petition in favour of keeping them – and indeed, extending them further throughout the city.

The blog post said: “The petitioners' argument that 20mph has made the roads more dangerous is particularly weak.”

Referring to the claim that lower speed limits are more dangerous due to their effect on driver behaviour, it added: “This statement is actually an insult to Bristol's motorists.

“It seems to suggest the city's drivers have no self-control or judgement and it must be a pretty bad driver who never takes their eye off the speedo, whatever the speed limit happens to be.

“We worry the signers of this petition have not properly thought through what they're signing up to.”

Bristol City Council is also resisting calls for the 30mph limit to be reinstated.

Earlier this month, Assistant Mayor Councillor Simon Cook told the Bristol Post: "There are tangible safety benefits of reducing speed to 20mph and research also shows that the real impact on journey times for drivers is remarkably small.

"The slower speed not only reduces the risk of injuries and fatalities, but it also encourages people to get out and walk or cycle.

"We are committed to making Bristol one of the most liveable cities in the world and to do that we need to make our neighbourhoods safer and healthier places to work and live."

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.